There is no better time than summer to experiment with a wide variety of healthful salads.
Salad greens and the vegetables and fruits used as salad ingredients vary greatly in flavors, colors and textures, and they are rich in vitamins and fiber.
Salads never need to be boring. No matter what kind of salad you choose, the presentation is part of what makes it appealing.
Consider using a variety of shapes of white or clear plates, bowls or stemmed glasses for serving colorful salads. Solid plates show the salad better than patterned plates. Make the salad ingredients the focus and pattern. If using colored dishes, be sure the colors of the salad ingredients complement and never clash with the dishes.
Most people automatically think of green salads, and that is a good place to start. Mix up the colors when making a salad to provide a wider range of nutrients and to be pleasing to the eye. When making a green salad, one green such as spinach leaves or a wide variety of greens can be used.
Milder flavored greens include butter lettuce (or Boston Bibb), green or red leaf lettuce, prepackaged mixed greens and Romaine. More strongly flavored greens include arugula, Belgian endive, any type of cabbage, curly endive, escarole, beet, chard or mustard greens, kale and watercress.
Choose fresh and crisp greens that are free of bruising, discoloration and wilting. Remove stems and roots if necessary. Rinse greens under cold water and shake off water before using. A salad spinner is great for this.
Washed greens can be placed on a clean kitchen towel or several layers paper towels and patted dry. The greens should be as dry as possible when serving so the dressing clings to the greens and doesn't get watery.
As you prepare the salad, remember that you want to create a beautiful presentation. Place salad greens on a large round or square white plate. Next choose other colors of vegetables and fruits to increase the phytonutrients in the salad and to add desired colors.
Consider red tomatoes, red bell pepper strips, radishes, beets or raspberries. Blue and purple additions could include blueberries, purple grapes, grated purple cabbage or purple onion slices. There are many orange and yellow options such as chopped carrots, yellow squash slices, cantaloupe balls, mango chunks, apricot halves, orange segments and peach slices. White vegetables such as cauliflower florets, mushroom buttons and jicama wedges are also great additions.
Arrange a variety of vegetables and fruits on the salad so they can be spread out and easily seen. Drizzle lightly with a favorite bottled dressing or try one of my favorite simple red wine vinaigrette recipes shown below. Sprinkle lightly with some nuts or seeds to complete the salad.
Another great presentation is a scoop of salad such as a chicken salad or tuna salad on a green lettuce leaf or bed of greens. The salad could also be served wrapped in green leaf lettuce rolls.
Present a variety of favorite fruits in a goblet for a beautiful presentation. For example, melon chunks or balls with strawberries, green or purple grapes and blueberries would make a nice combination and be appealing to the eye.
Red Wine Vinaigrette
Makes 4 tablespoons.
3 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoons red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
Nutrition information: This recipe makes 4 tablespoons. Each tablespoon contains approximately 42 calories and 3.5 grams fat.
Learn with Lunch
Becky Varner will teach Learn with Lunch at noon Tuesday in the Buy For Less at 2500 N Pennsylvania Ave.
Class size is limited. For reservations, call 302-6273, ext. 332.